Rejection Therapy with Jia Jiang

Would you walk up to a total stranger and request $100? How about knock on someone’s door you don’t know to ask if you can play soccer in their back yard? Or hitting up a policeman to drive their car?

Jia Jiang, author of Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, did all those things and more in his pursuit to overcome a lifelong fear of rejection. In an entertaining and lighthearted keynote, Jia talked about his early childhood in China and how a teacher’s unintended humiliation awoke feelings of inadequacy.

As a teenager, he dreamed of success in the U.S. after attending a lecture by Bill Gates. But he says, “There was a constant battle between the 6-year old me who was afraid of rejection and the 14-year old me who wanted to change the world. The 6-year old often won.”

As an exchange student in a tiny 500-person town, he rekindled his dreams and constantly dreamed big about building a business and making his mark. But after failing to secure an investment for a venture, his inner voice kept telling him, “You should quit now before you embarrass yourself more.”

Jiang realized, “To be a better leader, I had to get rid of my fear of rejection once and for all.”

So for 100 days, he committed to a form of rejection therapy to “overdose on rejection.” He started by asking a stranger for $100. Of course, the answer was “no.” It was awkward, but it wasn’t life-threatening. It was the start of a process that changed his life.

“Weird things started to happen. People started to say yes to me.”

In 100 odd yet genuine requests, he succeeded about half the time. He played soccer in a stranger’s back yard, and planted a flower in another. After getting frustrated by getting “a bunch of yeses in a row,” he asked a stranger to fly his plane. Guess what – he said yes, and Jiang took an exhilarating ride on a gyroplane.

Check out the YouTube video that got Jiang noticed – when Jackie, a problem-solving Krispy Kreme employee created a custom Olympic-themed donut creation, it reaffirmed his faith in humanity. And, he started getting emails from people with their own life-affirming stories about how the approach changed his life, including:

  • An artist who got brave enough to promote her work and gained an audience
  • A gentleman who learned to speak up to navigate the healthcare system to advocate for his wife during her cancer treatment

As a result of the initiative, Jiang wondered, “How many yeses have I missed in my life because I thought there was no way I was going to get it?” He shared a few lessons learned:

1. Rejection is a numbers game.

2. It’s nothing more than the opinion of the rejecter. It’s not about you.

3. Keep the conversation going. A tip when someone says no? Ask “why.”

4. Rejection strengthens your courage muscle.

5. Maintain a friendly demeanor and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is.

6. Just ask!!!

Jiang reflects that he learned more about myself in 100 days than in business school. He realized he wasn’t the only one who felt the way he did, and he learned how to feel comfortable asking for anything. “The feeling that rejection is so terrible and so terrifying is a lie we tell ourselves because we want to stay comfortable,” he says. “Let the world reject you, don’t reject yourself.”

Jia Jiang

Jia is an entrepreneur, speaker, engineer and author who overcame a fear of rejection through 100 days of self-driven rejection therapy. Filled with great stories and valuable insight, Rejection Proof is a fun and thoughtful examination of how to overcome fear and dare to live more boldly.